Edinburgh Preview: Jo Rush on Stand By by Declan Maloney Drummond


What's Stand By about? 

Stand By is about the police and how we protect our communities. The play tackles the severe pressures placed on police officers and the relationships forged between them. It's a really tense 75 minute long comedy-drama, which is set in a riot van outside a domestic incident that's about to turn violent - inside the house is a man with a baby wielding a samurai sword. To make the experience more immersive, the audience members wear single-earpiece headphones and hear the never-ending stream of incoming information that police officers have to handle whilst on the job.

What's your job on the show and how did you get involved?

I'm the associate director for the show's run at the Edinburgh Fringe and our tour of Scotland that follows. Joe Douglas, the show's director, who has developed the play with writer and actor Adam McNamara invited me to be part of the team because we've worked together on a few productions now and have a great dynamic between us, but also because his wife was due to have a baby midway through the rehearsal process. As a result it's been an unusual role for me because I've needed to be ready to step up and take over as director at any moment, but it's all gone very smoothly in the end - baby arrived safely last week and the show is looking great!

What has the development and rehearsal process been like?

Adam, our writer, is a former police officer who has since become an actor so the play is all drawn from his personal experiences which makes rehearsals fascinating because everything we're talking about is so real and the level of insight you get is pretty intense. Through rehearsals I've really appreciated that Adam is an actor as well as a writer because he puts so much trust in Joe and I as directors. He listens to everyone in the room, takes stuff on board, makes changes or cuts, and the play is definitely stronger for it. It's been a really collaborative rehearsal room and a lot of fun. A huge part of policing seems to be the dark humour that cops use to make the job more bearable and that's definitely made rehearsals a really jokey environment despite the serious heart of the play. 


What are your top tips for anyone visiting Edinburgh during August?

Prepare for any weather! 

Book stuff where you can but keep some time flexible for those last minute moments when there's a free show on in the back of a pub and you think why not? 

Know that some times seeing a terrible show can be just as good for you creatively as a brilliant one - even if it's just to have a festival war story to bond over with others. 

It's great to experience the sheer madness of the Royal Mile but it's not where I go for show recommendations. Word of mouth is by far my favourite way of choosing shows to see. 

There's a few places you can bank on seeing something top quality, like the Traverse, the International Festival, and I always find Pleasance or Assembly venues have at least one rising-star theatre company that's worth catching while they're cutting their teeth. 

Cram as much as you can in, look out for ticket deals at the half price hut and things like that, but don't let yourself feel guilty that you can't see it all or missed out on that one hot ticket show - it's just the nature of the beast!

What's next for you?

With my own company Urban Fox Theatre I'm currently developing a new site specific play about fires in tall buildings with writer Dave Fargnoli and my co-director Amy Gilmartin. We've been working on this idea for a few years now but obviously recent events in London have massively affected the direction we're taking with the work but we're hoping to stage it next year. In between now and then I'm also going to have my second child so that will keep me busy!

Jo Rush is co-artistic director of new writing company Urban Fox Theatre. Alongside her own directorial portfolio, she has worked with Utter as an Assistant Director on Bloody Trams (Traverse Theatre and Utter) and with Joe Douglas on the award-winning Death of a Salesman (Dundee Rep), and the smash-hit The Cheviot, The Stag and the Black, Black Oil. (Dundee Rep).

Stand By will preview at The Byre, St Andrews from 4 – 5 August, before making its Festival Fringe debut at Army@The Fringe in association with Summerhall, from 11 – 26 August. Part of the Made in Scotland Showcase 2017, tickets for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe performances can be purchased here. Stand By will announce its Autumn 2017 tour thereafter.






Edinburgh Preview: Laughing Mirror on Guy Fawkes It Up by Declan Maloney Drummond

What's your show about?

‘Guy Fawkes it Up’ is a farcical explanation of the events of the Gunpowder Plot and it’s ill fated end. It explores what ‘really’ went wrong under the Houses of Parliament in 1605 and how the King and his entourage managed to catch Guy Fawkes red handed and leave his plans hung, drawn and quartered. With 6 actors playing around 30 different characters expect a fast paced, ridiculous and explosive 50 minutes!

Have you been to Edinburgh before?

Some of the cast have performed in Edinburgh Fringe shows before, but this is the first time we will all travel together with Laughing Mirror which is something we are all very much looking forward to!

What's the process of bringing a show to Edinburgh like?

Intense but incredibly rewarding! There are so many different balls to juggle so to speak. We are always busy working, tweaking and planning. But it’s been an unbelievably fun process. The actors have been given almost total creative freedom to play with the script and it’s been incredible to see the hilarious material that they have come up with. As a result it has felt like a really inclusive rehearsal process where both the actors and the directors are really happy with what we’re developing and the journey the piece has taken.

What do you plan to do with any free time you have during the Fringe?

See as much theatre as possible! Each of us have our own personal list of shows that we can’t wait to try and catch. Between that and thinking of increasingly ridiculous ways to grab your attention on the mile, we’re all looking forward to exploring Edinburgh, some of us for the very first time.



Edinburgh Preview: Nick Card on The Interview by Declan Maloney Drummond

What's your show about?

It's a play about a corrupt businessman, Ian Marchbanks, who applies for what he believes will be his dream job.  He lies and cheats his way into the interview only to find that the position, the company and in particularly the interviewer are not as they appear.  Ian is then subjected to a hellish emotional rollercoaster ride during which his past finally catches up with him.  

Have you been to Edinburgh before?

Yes, I took my play "A Grave Reunion" there in 2012.


What's the process of bringing a show to Edinburgh like?

Very challenging but then I knew it would be as there are a lot of things that need to be sorted in order to make an Edinburgh Fringe production happen.  Fortunately I have a great team around me who are really making this play come together.

What do you plan to do with any free time you have during the Fringe?

See other shows.  One of the great things about being with theSpaceUK is that you get a pass to see other theSpaceUK shows for free - I will take full advantage of that.

Edinburgh Preview: Paperback Theatre's We Need To Talk About Bobby (Off Eastenders) by Declan Maloney Drummond

What's your show about? 

On the one hand, 'We Need to Talk About Bobby (off EastEnders)' is essentially a psychological thriller about a child actress. It follows a young girl, Annie, who is an actress for television. She gets cast in a TV show that contains quite explicit adult themes and that requires her to say and do some very adult things on camera. The play charts the effect that this has on her mental health and her emotional development.

At the same time, the play is trying to raise the issue of what we think is society’s uneasy fascination with child violence. When writing the play, George (the writer) felt that there is an uncomfortable conversation (or lack of) taking place about how child violence is depicted, be it in the news or, indeed, prime time soap operas. Over the course of writing the play, however, George also found that it reflects upon our inability to speak to, relate to and understand children - particularly teenagers - and to explain the world to them in a sensible and frank way. 

The title refers to a character in EastEnders, Bobby Beale, who killed his sister Lucy Beale at 12 years old with a hockey stick. When watching an advert for the episode, George was disturbed by how the advert was edited to make the audience, feel excited even by the prospect that Bobby, as such a young child, might kill again. 

Have you been to Edinburgh before?

A few members of the Paperback team have been before, but this is the first time we've brought a show up together as a company, which is very exciting.

What's the process of bringing a show to Edinburgh like?

So far, mad! The festival hasn't even begun yet and there's already so much to do. Liasing with the venue, sorting out the publicity materials, marketing the show on social media...not to mention wrapping up rehearsals! Still, it's an incredibly fun month.

What do you plan to do with any free time you have during the Fringe?

Drink, eat every day at Mosque Kitchen, see some amazing shows and meet incredible companies, climb Arthur's Seat at 3am in the morning.






Edinburgh Preview: Sarah Milton on Tumble Tuck by Declan Maloney Drummond

What's your show about?

Tumble Tuck is a play that explores body image, the modern definition of success and self confidence through the eyes of Daisy, a young woman who has surprisingly found herself on her local swimming team!

Have you been to Edinburgh before?

This is Back Here! Theatre's first Edinburgh Fringe Production and mine as a performer. I've spectated many times but it's an honour to be bringing my first show up on the 70th anniversary of Edinburgh Fringe. 

We’re all extremely excited. I'm also a little nervous, but I think that's because the entire team behind Tumble Tuck cares so much about the show. Daisy's story resonated brilliantly with everyone at Wilderness Festival with the Old Vic New Voices in August 2016, and it's showing at The Soho Theatre in the October, so I just hope that it will do the same with audiences in Edinburgh. 

The show is being well looked after by our producer Helena at Back Here! Theatre, and the director, Tom Wright, and I have been with the show since the beginning of it's life on the Soho Writer's Lab in 2015. Together, we have a committed and passionate team who are so invested in Daisy and the play, that it will hopefully be something quite special. 

What's the process of bringing a show to Edinburgh like?

As a team, we've all said we don't know how companies just decide to take a show to Edinburgh a couple of months before! This has been our plan since December 2016, and it's taken an insane amount of time, commitment, networking and admin up until this point. 

Because we've had the luxury of time, it's been quite a steady process. Our producer, Helena Doughty, has been so forward thinking and meticulous in her work and preparation for August. We’ve also been lucky that the show has been performed before, so we're just building on that in rehearsals. 

The process itself has been quite informal and relaxed so far; our Director, Tom Wright, asks a lot of questions and focuses on character choices that inform my performance, so it's all been wonderfully collaborative. As well, I think it helps that every single person involved passionately believes in this show.

What do you plan to do with any free time you have during the Fringe?

See some other fabulous shows, of course! I’m really looking forward to seeing BALLISTIC by Mini Mall Theatre at The Pleasance 2.15pm; I saw it at Brighton Fringe last year and am so excited to see the journey that show has gone on https://www.pleasance.co.uk/event/ballistic

Milly Thomas, who I’m on Soho Writer’s Alumni Group with, has her play DUST on at The Underbelly, Big Belly. It shows at 4.40pm http://www.underbellyedinburgh.co.uk/whats-on/dust and I’ve heard an extract of it, which I was enthralled by! I also start my Yoga teacher training in September and Helena, our producer at Back Here! Theatre, has promised to be my guinea pig student for the month!